3 Best Reasons to Visit Joshua Tree National Park
I went camping in Joshua Tree National Park. Perfectly dark night. Beautiful starry skies. Scary howling coyotes.
But I still think you should add it to your list of places to go, and here is why:
1. The 2 for 1 climate
Two desert habitats in one national park — this is what Joshua Tree offers its curious visitors. This park in California’s southernmost region sits uniquely between two ecosystems, which gives Joshua Tree its contrasting look. The park spreads to a little more than 790,000 acres and converges into the Colorado and Mojave Desserts.
The Colorado side of the park is lower in elevation, and is located on its eastern flank. The temperature here is higher, and the area is often referred to as the “low dessert”. In comparison, the park’s second half, Mojave side is the high desert, which is wetter and has more vegetation.
As you may have already guessed, the park is named after special trees whose branches stretch up towards the sky and toward "heaven". Because of this biblical reminder, settlers named the trees after the Bible character Joshua, who guided the Jewish slaves from Egypt to the promised land.
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2. The hiking
Most avid rock climbers know that Joshua Tree is one of the best places to climb in all of California because of its giant rock formations that presents big challenges to an enthusiast’s climbing skill level. Those who do not want to get into serious climbing, can still settle for the large boulders spread across the park.
When you have a desert landscape, there will always be beautiful oases waiting to be discovered. Hike around Joshua tree, and you will soon find shaded areas full of palm trees and streams fed by natural springs. In the 19th century, gold mining in this park was at its peak, but time has not been kind to this venture, and what is left of the mining industry are ruins.
You can revisit the past by taking one of the hiking trails that lead to the mining sites. Some of these sites are also accessible by mountain bike and four-wheeled drive vehicles. Another popular hiking destination is the Hidden Valley Trail. Back in the day, this valley was the secret storing place for cattle stolen by cattle wrestlers.
3. The spectacular scenery
The desert vistas all around the park are a photographer’s dream.
Planning your visit
You can visit the park year round, but the most comfortable temperatures would be during spring and fall. During spring time, the hillsides of Joshua Tree comes even more alive with the colorful display of wildflowers. Joshua Tree is very worthy of being on your bucket list.
A number of people come to Joshua Tree National Park on a day trip from Palm Springs. But you also have the option to stay within or near the park for a couple of days. The main advantage of staying overnight at Joshua Tree is being treated to a mesmerizing night sky full of brilliant stars (great for astrophotography). Mid-August is an even more special time for stargazing as this is when the Perseid meteor shower usually happens.
The park is equipped with a Visitors Center in Park Boulevard and is open everyday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. If you are planning to do some serious hiking, then drop by this center to get a detailed map that features the hiking routes. There are also maps available at a ranger station located at the entrance of the park where you pay your fees. This less detailed map is perfect for those who are just enjoying a casual visit.
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